Nonprofit in Yuma County helps prevent migrant street releases in Arizona

Migrants along the border receive health checks at border facilities in Yuma.
Published: Sep. 27, 2023 at 6:14 PM MST
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SOMERTON, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -The Regional Center for Border Health headquarters in Somerton is preventing migrant release in Yuma by helping migrants get to their sponsors.

When migrants are released from border patrol custody in Yuma, they’re sent to the center. “By six thirty, seven o’clock, we already know how many families will be released or individuals,” said Amanda Aguirre, RCFBH CEO and president. At the center, migrants are provided with healthcare services, food, and clothes, and workers there help them book their flights.

On average, RCFBH sees about 5-6 bus loads of migrants each day from Yuma border patrol, but at their peak, they reached up to 18 buses in one day. “We’re the only non-profit in Yuma County doing this work to prevent street releases in the city of Yuma,” said Alex Bejarano, Liaison and Public Affairs Director. Street releases are a reality in other parts of the southern border. Yuma has seen a decrease in migrant crossings.

The center has now been tapped to help the Tucson border patrol. “We alleviated a little bit of the surge they’re having right now by taking two buses a day from Tucson,” said Aguirre. He says Tucson border patrol sent the buses directly to the center, which is on top of the buses they take in from The Yuma sector daily. So far, they’ve received 12 buses from Tucson. “We go in peaks up and down. The highest we have this year is 9,000 people in a month,” Aguirre said. That was in May when Title 42 ended.

“The migrants are usually reunited with their families within 24 hours of their arrival here,” said Bejarao. He says the migrants arriving at the center pay for their own flights, but the center busses them to the airport in Phoenix.

“My family is waiting for us,” said Soledad, an immigrant from Ecuador. She traveled with her two children and crossed the border in Arizona. She said the journey to get to the United States was brutal, but staying in Ecuador wasn’t an option. “There’s a lot of violence right now,” she said. She said she’s ready to see her family and start working because she’s in debt with people in Ecuador who paid for her travels to the United States.

The RCFBH said this month alone, they’ve helped reunite over seven thousand families. They expect to see an uptick in migrants in December.

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